It’s never too early to start thinking about your next holiday. I’m a firm believer in the joie du vivre, people. So where should be top of your list, I hear you ask? That’s easy – Valencia!
Lying on the eastern coast of Spain, it’s the country’s third largest city. And while that may lead you to believe that it’s all hustle and bustle, that isn’t the case. Life seems to slow down there (in the best possible way). It has that characteristic laidback vibe the Spaniards are so famous for and there is most certainly no hurry or worry.
I’ve mapped out some of the best things to see and do below, so sit back, relax and book your trip already.
City of Arts & Sciences
This should be top of your list; you can’t go to Valencia and not see this. Absolutely stunning buildings that are the work of local architect Santiago Calatrava. Here you’ll find an opera house, a science museum, a 3D cinema and an aquarium. Worth going to for the kayaks/paddleboards you can rent outside…a little pricey, €5 per person per half hour, but yer on yer holidays after all.
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I could take or leave the museum itself, not a huge amount to see inside, but it also sometimes houses cool exhibits (there was a Harry Potter one on when I was there) so you might find something that takes your fancy. 270 Degrees Bar is very near and has a rooftop terrace with unreal views of the area, so I’d recommend making this your next stop when you need a cold drink and some shade.
Food, glorious food
If your whole trip doesn’t revolve around food, then you’re doing it wrong. I’m a massive foodie so I’m always extremely excited at the prospect of trying new places. Luckily for me, I have Valencian friends who were happy to share their insider knowledge and point me in the direction of the best spots in town. Two of my absolute favourites? Saona and Los Escalones De La Lonja.
First, Saona. Located at Plaza De La Virgen, the surroundings are gorgeous, and the food is divine. In classic Spanish style, the plaza comes alive in the evening so it’s the best spot to perch with a glass of wine and people watch. If you’re a fan of fish, order the tuna tempura. If you’re not a fan of fish, order the tuna tempura (it’s that good). Try to pre-book a table here if you can as it’s extremely popular, so rocking up and hoping for the best may not work out for you.
Next, Los Escalones De La Lonja. I went here for tapas and it was by far the best meal I’ve ever had (not an exaggeration). Fried cheese with blueberry jam, patatas bravas, warm bread…are you drooling yet? You just have to go here and experience it for yourself.
I personally think it’s acceptable to go the beach year-round; sunbathe in summer and go for long strolls along the water in colder months. So, following that logic, the Playa de la Malvarrosa is a must-see any time of year. I was there in July so got to revel in the sweet Spanish sunshine. It was tropic.
Stock up on snacks in one of the nearby shops or hit up any of the number of restaurants along the strip. This is also the best place to go for you paella fix…you’re literally at the sea, it can’t get much fresher.
I would recommend investing in a colourful beach sheet from one of the stalls too - practical (for laying out) and pretty (use as a tapestry/wall hanging upon your return). Holiday mode activated.
10/10 would recommend to a friend. About an hour and a half outside of Valencia, Montanejos is known for its thermal baths. It can be a little tricky to get to, so if you’re willing to spend a bit more I would 100% book the ‘Hot Springs Tour’ with GoValenciaTours. €69 for a whole day of fun, and SO much is included.
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First stop is to the Bridal Veil Waterfall where you can live out your I'm A Celeb dreams of a natural outdoor shower and pretend you’re shooting your very own Herbal Essences ad. Next is a lunch stop and after is on to the thermal springs where you’re left to your own devices and can swim and explore to your heart's content. The water is so blue it almost doesn’t look real.
Saturday Night Fever
The nightlife in Valencia rivals that of even Madrid and Barcelona. Not limited to just a Saturday, there’s a buzz most nights of the week. Some of the top-rated spots are Mya and L’Umbracle, Aquarella and anywhere within the Ruzafa area. Having been to all three, you have it on good authority that they absolutely deliver on a great night out.
Mya and L’Umbracle come as a package deal so when you pay in to one, you get access to both. Mya is the nightclub, on the lower floor, and L’Umbracle is the rooftop bar area. This is out by the City of Arts and Sciences, so a taxi is your best bet for getting there - and once you’re there, you won’t want to leave.
Aquarella is also a great shout, and it’s right on the beach, so dance the night away and then totter outside to watch the sunrise. Very noteworthy that there is a food counter inside the nightclub. Yes, you heard me right. IDEAL.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Valencia has to offer, the highlights if you will, and having spent five days there myself, I know for a fact that it won’t disappoint.